Jewish groups laud defeat of YouTuber associated with Nazi imagery in Texas Republican primary
Congressman-elect Tony Gonzales (R-Texas). Photo: Tony Gonzales for Congress

Republican primary voters backed Rep. Tony Gonzales “and rejected goose-stepping extremist Brandon Herrera,” the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership stated.

By Andrew Bernard
May 29, 2024

(JNS) Texas Congressman Tony Gonzales narrowly defeated a controversial, right-wing challenger in a closely watched Texas Republican primary runoff on Tuesday.

AIPAC and the Republican Jewish Coalition—both of which backed Gonzales—touted his victory as a win for supporters of Israel on Wednesday.

“The pro-Israel community was deeply engaged in supporting Rep. Gonzales as he has consistently stood with the Jewish state as it battles Hamas and other Iranian terrorist proxies,” AIPAC stated. “The outcome in this race once again shows that the pro-Israel position is both good policy and good politics—for both parties.”

Gonzales won Tuesday’s runoff with 50.7% of the vote, defeating social-media personality and gun manufacturer Brandon Herrera, who secured 49.3% of the vote, with more than 95% of the votes counted. Some 29,600 people voted.

Herrera, whose gun-focused YouTube channel The AK Guy has more than 3 million subscribers, faced significant criticism for using references and imagery associated with Nazi Germany in his videos.

In a 2022 overview of the Nazi-made MP 40 submachine gun, Herrera referred to the gun as “the original ghetto blaster,” an apparent reference to the system of Jewish ghettos that the Nazis established leading up to and during the Holocaust.

Wearing what appeared to be Nazi military camouflage ponchos, he and a guest then goose-stepped and danced to the tune of the Nazi-era marching song “Erika” while carrying an MP 40 and an MG 42, another German machine gun.

At the end of the segment, Herrera stopped his guest from completing a Nazi salute.

In another video featuring the Nazi-made STG 44 machine gun, Herrera describes firing the weapon as “like a religious experience.”

“Come on baby, for the Fatherland,” he said before firing.

The joking tone of the videos and their use of songs and imagery from the Third Reich are common features among antisemitic, alt-right social-media figures, such as the Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.

Many other gun channels on YouTube eschew the use of Nazi imagery when discussing German firearms as distasteful. YouTube also demonetizes content that it deems antisemitic.

Herrera was featured in a 2014 promo video for the Fayetteville, N.C., chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans wearing a shirt with the Confederate battle flag. In the video, he refers to the Civil War as the “war of northern aggression.”

‘Expect to lose your next primary’

Norm Coleman and Matt Brooks, national chairman and CEO, respectively, of the Republican Jewish Coalition, cited Herera’s MP 40 video in a victory statement on Wednesday.

“Republican primary voters in TX-23 backed Congressman Tony Gonzales and rejected goose-stepping extremist Brandon Herrera,” they stated. “We are proud and gratified to have played a significant role in helping Congressman Gonzales defeat his challenger and we look forward to continuing to work with him in Congress.”

Gonzales’s 23rd District covers the West Texas border from El Paso to parts of San Antonio. It is a majority-Hispanic swing district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but flipped to former President Donald Trump in 2020. It was previously represented by moderate Republican Will Hurd from 2015 to 2021.

Gonzales will now face Democrat Santos Limon, a civil engineer and small-business owner, in the November general election.

Elsewhere in Texas, conservative groups celebrated primary runoff wins in state legislature races to challenge incumbent Republicans who opposed Gov. Greg Abbott’s 2023 school-choice initiative.

“The message from these primaries and runoffs should be crystal clear—if you call yourself conservative and oppose school freedom, retire or expect to lose your next primary,” stated David McIntosh, the president of Club for Growth Action.

“The 10 so-called Republicans who failed to support school freedom learned the hard way that their primary voters will not accept putting leftist bureaucrats above children,” he added.

In 2023, 21 Republicans joined Democrats in the Republican-controlled Texas House to remove school vouchers from the state’s education bill.

Following the defeat of 10 of those representatives in the primaries, Abbott celebrated his forthcoming school-voucher-supporting majority on Tuesday.

“The Texas legislature now has enough votes to pass school choice,” Abbott wrote. “Together, we will ensure the best future for our children.”

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